Blake Lively came from a showbiz family but was reluctant to follow them into the limelight. Now, with Ryan Reynolds as a husband, she's sure glad she did!
As Serena van der Woodsen in the iconic TV show Gossip Girl, Blake Lively was a gorgeous, elegant and scandalous socialite of Manhattan. In real life she’s equally gorgeous and elegant but as far from scandal as you can get. Aside from the great hair and killer wardrobe, there isn’t much that the actress, 27, has in common with the character that made her famous.
Blake was born on 25 August 1987 in a small area of LA called Tarzana. She was named after her grandmother’s brother and had showbiz in her blood: her father Ernie and her older siblings Eric, Robyn, Jason and Lori are all current or former actors, and her mother Elaine is a talent manager.
The family moved to the trendier area of Burbank, where Blake grew up. During her childhood, her parents took her with them to acting classes that they taught because they didn’t want to leave her with a babysitter. ‘There were only upsides,’ Blake says of her Hollywood upbringing. ‘I got to travel and visit my family on set. I got to eat craft service [on-set catering]. I think that was why I got into acting – the free food!’
Despite her roots in entertainment, Blake never dreamt she’d become an actress herself. ‘Going into the family business was the last thing I wanted to do,’ she said. ‘I didn’t want to be an actor just because my whole family did it.’
Blake began her acting career at 10, when she appeared in the 1998 film Sandman, directed by her dad. She describes her role as a ‘bit part’. When she was 15, her brother Eric, who’s six years older than her, took her on holiday to Paris and suggested she get into acting like the rest of the family, or even become a film producer.
Blake still wasn’t convinced. ‘But then a year later, Eric was running lines with his friend and he talked me into going to this audition,’ she says. ‘I just did the first one to be nice because he was always so great to me, then I ended up going to a few more auditions. I didn’t have an agent. I’d just write down that I was with my brother’s agency, then the agency would get calls and they’d say they had no idea who I was! But after a few auditions I got The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants, which was my first job. So I have Eric to thank for getting me into acting.’
Blake says the film – about four girlfriends who pass around a pair of second-hand jeans that fits each of their bodies perfectly – was an ‘amazing first job’. ‘I thought: “This is great. I’ll try out acting and see if I like it.”‘ She filmed it over the summer of 2004, then returned to high school to see out her final year.
Instead of going straight on to college, Blake decided to give acting a go – but never imagined it’d lead to the success it has. ‘I thought: “I’ll finish high school, then I’ll hold off going to college for a year and just try it.” But here I am still acting. Things worked out alright.’
You can say that again. She quickly landed promising film roles, including the comedy Accepted with Jonah Hill and Justin Long, thriller Simon Says and drama Elvis And Annabelle, in which she played a bulimic beauty pageant contestant.
In December 2006, she auditioned for the TV series that would change her entire life and catapult her to superstardom. In February 2007, she and Leighton Meester were the first two names to be confirmed for Gossip Girl, based on a series of books and developed by Josh Schwartz, who’d created The OC. Blake was cast as one of the leads, Serena van der Woodsen.
Until the series ended in 2012, she had some of the show’s biggest storylines, including cocaine and alcohol use, an on-off relationship with her stepbrother Dan Humphrey [Penn Badgley] and even a shooting. It led to major roles in Ben Affleck‘s The Town and The Green Lantern, in which she starred opposite her future husband Ryan Reynolds. The two married in September 2012 and welcomed a daughter James in December 2014.
This week Blake returns to the film spotlight this week with the release of The Age Of Adaline. The future looks bright for this Gossip Girl.